Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Byrne eager for Rome triumph

Lee Byrne

Lee Byrne believes Wales' Murrayfield victory over Scotland will be meaningless unless they back it up with a second successive RBS 6 Nations away win on Saturday.

Wales tackle Italy in Rome - scene of painful Six Nations defeats against the Azzurri in 2003 and 2007 - knowing victory would keep them among the title contenders.

"That victory in Scotland won't mean anything if we don't go on and get another win in Rome," said Wales full-back Byrne. "We have come unstuck against Italy before, and we must definitely have our game heads on."

He added: "It's all about learning the lessons of the past and realising that Italy are improving year on year. They are a force at home. It's like a club ground the way the spectators are very close to you. It is smaller than most other international arenas, and the atmosphere is quite intimidating.

"They do raise their game and get the most out of their players. Yes, they had a heavy defeat against England, but on the back of that defeat they will be looking to put things right.

"I don't think the beating they suffered at Twickenham (Italy lost 59-13) will help us. Their match with Ireland in Rome, when they lost by two points, was more of a reflection."

Wales will parade six survivors - James Hook, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Matthew Rees, Alun-Wyn Jones and Ryan Jones - from four years ago when Italy triumphed 23-20 but the visitors also know they can comfortably tame the Italians on home soil, crushing them 38-8 en route towards a Six Nations title and Grand Slam in 2005.

And having ended an eight-match run without a win through sinking Scotland 12 days ago, Wales must now kick on as the countdown continues towards this year's World Cup in New Zealand.

Byrne claims the effect of that 24-6 Edinburgh success cannot be underestimated.

He added: "It reminded me of two years ago up there when we dominated the first-half. We now know we are still capable of playing that type of rugby. If we can repeat that sort of performance in Rome then Italy will find it difficult to live with us."

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